A new vision

I am tired these days. The end is just about insight. I have been spent this morning reading up on my blogs. I found a spirited discussion again on Carol’s blog.

I wanted to share with y’all my vision for a new way to enter ministry in the PCUSA.

What we need is a draft! All viable candidates (viable is a decent word that shall be left to be filled in by any and all people that care to) shall be placed on a board. With skills, interests, gift, and such listed so the drafting congregations know what they are getting into.

The draft participants are ranked with gender being only a slight advantage to the fellas. This is a draft after all. The will be a combine at all 10 Presbyterian seminaries to rank and categorize the candidates. It will be fabulous! Man there will be coffee, donuts, and chatter.

When I am preaching in the combine folks (other potential candidates) will heckle me and seek to distract me! That will be awesome.

The events to test and rank the potential candidates will consist of Preaching with sermon exegeses proof, pastor care/counseling in a crisis, engaging the youth, creating a worship space, proper use of the BoO, BCW, and all decent and orderly forms. The final round is a Bible Bowl forum with spirit leaders and a huge mascot of Moses, Abraham, Peter, Jesus, Paul, or Barth.

The drafting congregations will be ordered according to need, local contribution to GA, mission service, the buzz surrounding the congregation. They to will also have a combine. They get to gather and discuss how pious, great, and/or Biblically literate they are.

To make things fair there will be a priority for the smaller rural and urban churches. The lager (mega or not so mega) churches may only draft if needed. They must sell their picks to the smaller churches for the first series of new born Biblically literate children available. This may be satisfied by a compulsory round of Paper, Rock, Scissors.

I hope that this will provide a more level playing field for the ministry. After all it is all about Jesus and we all know that besides Jesus believing and thinking just like “I do”, Jesus wants to give all sorts of money and stuff. It is what Jesus wants to Do!

For the love of Money, what about God, what about me…

This morning Carol Howard Merritt, alumni from APTS, discussed the financial disparity that exists out there in ChurchWorldLand. She says, “I wish that each pastor had a set amount, based on cost of living, housing, experience, and education. A set salary, where certain things don’t matter—things like ethnicity, age, gender. And certain things do matter, like how much you had to go into debt to get your seminary education.” Carol I am with you. It hurts deeply to imagine a world full of debt and suffering in a place that is supposedly home to most of the world’s wealth.

I will be the first person to admit that even our lowest standard of living is higher than many countries average daily income levels. We are not the worst. We are also sitting atop a volatile mountain of debt, spending, and imaginary power cells. What the fuck are we living for? Where is the service to Christ? Where is the transformation? We are dying as a church in the west and people say they care but they are not supporting it.

I wrote this in response to Carol’s post. I am not a pastor, but a seminarian on the verge of graduation. I am terrified to go into ministry. All of the fears you spoke of add to my anxiety. What shall I do to ensure I can afford to raise a family or even serve a congregation? I heard far too much, “trust God! It is a matter of faith.” I agree trusting God is the beginning. Where is the practice of trust when it comes to financial support from the congregants? Folks will complain, but they will not support.

We are all to blame in the decline. We are part of the problem. This stance of “trust God and if you do not then you have no faith” removes the responsibility from congregations, the Body, and all have in supporting the church. We do not train pastors for free. Is it fair and good stewardship to expect these individuals to shoulder the cost of training that is required?

We have to pay 80dollars per ordination exam that is 400 dollars if you can pass these antiquated monsters in the first shot. Not many do! Then there are the psychological evaluations, anywhere from 600 to 2500 dollars. Then the cost of seminary itself, from 10,000 to 15,000 per year for tuition and an additional 10,000 or so to live each year. That is about 60,000 to 75,000 in debt to begin your service with. We need to be smarter with this. If we say we are concerned with the death of the church then we need to step up and support.

The day of the full time pastor maybe behind us I for one think it is. We must seek sustainable ways to minister in the context to which we find ourselves. Does this mean we have to do away with seminaries and the education they provide? No, the seminary education is foundational to service in the reformed tradition. We must change our lives to live responsibly and centered on Christ.

Do you need the ipod? The newest phone? The cable TV? The two cars? The this or the that? All of this stuff is nice. What does it say about what you live your life for and for whom you live for? I am a fucking hypocrite right along with many of us. I crave the technologies! The Apple computers. The name brand running shoes, the jeans, the shirts, the designer vitamins and food. I love to eat out and an overweight and a burden to this world. I do not practice all that I preach. I need grace, forgiveness, and courage to be what I have witnessed in this world. To stand against the tyranny of consumerism and stereotypes, and hopelessness.

There is a better way. Please pray about it and pray that we can find the way to the cross and sit at the feet of Jesus. The rebel rousing Jesus that kicks the money lenders out of the house of Prayer. WTFWJD?

A Call to Ministry in a Postmodern World

There has been much ado about postmodernism these days. There is postmodern architecture, postmodern philosophy, postmodern art, postmodern film, postmodern literature, postmodern music, postmodern theater, postmodern theology, and even postmodern postmodernism. You cannot escape conversation in many circles without postmodernism entering into it and mocking your modern intellectual vision.

The effects upon the cultural landscape moves today into tension with tomorrow. It begs us to ask the questions of where, when, why, and how of the very human fabric that weaves history, time, and space into a society or does it?

No matter how you interpret postmodernism you must contend that it is a reaction to the status quo. It is rooted in an outsider perspective that mounts attitudes of “us verses them” upon a position of entitlement.

What is Postmodern Theology?

Postmodern Christian theology is a theology rooted in reaction to the status quo. It should be counter-cultural in nature. It seeks to disturb and transform those engaged in the practice of theology. It looks to the pervading culture for means to express and illuminate the gospel message of Jesus Christ. It must not be comfortable or commodified. Theology that seeks to transform cannot and should not be consumed like fun size Halloween candy. To partake in the radical transforming nature of the gospel direct opposition to the status quo is called for.

Gone is the ability to stoically sit by as the gospel is used to propagate a conquering message that excludes and builds division. We are far to concerned with difference rather than similarities.

All are called to ministry. All are sought after to serve. In the Presbyterian tradition being a Minister of the Word and Sacrament does not entitle you to anything more than service. There is no difference between congregation and pastor. We are a body of Believers! Some of us have lost our salt. We are SALboosT as a denomination already.

Where must we go from here?

My outcome in this process
In the course of researching the topic of Postmodern understanding of call I conducted many interviews. I came across a few conclusions: 1) Call is relative to one culture. 2) Postmodern understanding of call is rooted in vocational understanding and a longing for security. 3) Action is called for today. we must seek to engage the culture around us to become effective instruments of witness.

There is need for ministers, pastors, and preachers. There is also a need for the understanding of these roles to sift and become more flexible. Churches would benefit from becoming uncomfortable and challenge he status quo. What are you protecting and from what are you protecting it from? In a world full of adjectives, may we be a people of verbs.